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NHL commissioner Bettman has asked to move hockey to Summer Olympics

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During TNT's broadcast of the 2022 Winter Classic between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman stated that he's explored the idea of having hockey added to the Summer Olympics.

According to Bettman, he's been trying to make this happen since the mid-1990s, but the International Olympic Committee has been adamant about not moving it. Hockey made its Olympic debut at the 1920 Summer Games before switching to the Winter Olympics in 1924.

A move to the Summer Olympics would obviously make more logistical sense for the NHL, as the Games wouldn't interfere with the league's 82-game regular season or playoffs.

The commissioner's comments come just days after a number of players, most vocally Brad Marchand, voiced their frustrations about not being able to participate in the 2022 Beijing Games despite it being a negotiated part of the recent collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA.

Gary Bettman addresses the media during a press conference for the NHL Winter Classic. (Photo by David Berding/NHLI via Getty Images)
Gary Bettman addresses the media during a press conference for the NHL Winter Classic. (Photo by David Berding/NHLI via Getty Images)

Bettman isn't the only one who's been willing to go to great lengths in order to have the league's stars compete at the Olympics, with players themselves considering loopholes that would grant them eligibility to play, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman:

"I was just talking to a couple of other players and they told me one of the things, just to give you an idea of how they felt about it, one of the things a few of them asked was, 'Could we retire or find some way to void our contracts, go play the Olympics and find a way to come re-sign?'" Friedman noted during Saturday's 32 Thoughts segment on Hockey Night in Canada.

"And a couple of them said, could they retire and come back? They also asked, 'Could we be in a situation where we could ask to be put on waivers for the purposes of termination and then come back after the Olympics and re-sign with our team?'

"One of them kind of laughed and said to me they were told, 'You think the NHL is ever going to allow you to try anything like that? There is not a chance.'"

It will be interesting to see how this clear conflict between the league and its players affects future bargaining agreements. The current deal between the two parties doesn't expire until 2025-26, which is just before the next Winter Olympics.

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